Game Design and Interactive Media, B.A.


Biola’s Game Design and Interactive Media major prepares students to design innovative games that glorify God through emotionally-resonant stories and interactive mechanics.  Located in one of the game industry’s top metro areas, Biola is uniquely positioned to train designers who tell stories that matter.

Degree Program

Grounded in game history and design theory, students are challenged to create original mechanics (game rules) that complement the narratives they are developing.  These mechanics are tested and perfected through an iterative prototyping process which includes both paper and digital prototypes. Students also take a foundational sequence of courses in cinematic storytelling, including screenwriting and visual aesthetics.  This culminates in an advanced team project where students complete a shippable game with an underlying theme inspired by their faith.

Freshman Year

Games represent a convergence of different mediums, so freshman year introduces students to the fundamentals of cinema, 3D art and computer programming. The cinema courses are shared with writing and production students, which helps foster community and develop a common language for visual storytelling.  Students also take an introductory course in game history, learning about seminal games and designers, and seeing firsthand how technology has influenced the evolution of gameplay.

Sophomore Year

Sophomores are introduced to the iterative game design process. Students begin by defining the player experience they envision. Next, a “core mechanic” is chosen — this is the primary gameplay goal and method of interactivity. Students then create paper prototypes and playtest them to verify the chosen mechanic and gain feedback from fellow students.  This process continues until a design is finalized.

Junior Year

Junior year goes beyond the fundamentals.  Game Narratives explores how to effectively integrate story with gameplay--no easy feat, due to the interactive nature of games.  Game Engines gives students familiarity with the technical tools of game development, emphasizing programming and building interactive 3D worlds.  These two courses lead to Intermediate Game Design, where teams of students create digital prototypes that explore themes of faith and culture through gameplay and story.  Also in Level Design, students break down their games into individual moments, designing puzzles, level architecture, and emotional feedback systems.

Senior Year

Seniors take everything they have learned and produce several polished digital games ready for distribution.  In Advanced Game Design, project teams continue the designs they started in the intermediate course and use an iterative production process to finish and “ship” their game.  Then in Senior Media Project, each student has the opportunity to lead a project team in the creation of their own short game or vertical slice game level. The games produced in both courses will be suitable for entering in independent games festivals such as IndieCade and IGF. 

Students will have the opportunity to gain real-world experience as an intern at a game studio or media company. Additional opportunities for growth include the Integration Seminar, which helps students explore how to bring their faith to game design — be it through evangelism, service or simply by being a light in secular industry.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and Interactive Media, students will be able to:

  1. Identify the basic components, theory, history and practices of game design (ULO 1).
  2. Demonstrate their ability to integrate their faith and distinguish between biblical and unbiblical practices in the discipline of game development (ULO 2).
  3. Apply their knowledge of game design, narrative design, art and producing to the world of their craft (ULO 3).

Each Program Learning Outcome (PLO) listed above references at least one of the University Learning Outcomes (ULO 1, 2, 3), which may be found in the General Information section of this catalog.

Admission Requirements

The entertainment industry is a highly competitive, creative, and demanding business. Admission to the Game Design and Interactive major is separate from and contingent upon your admission to Biola University. Admission to Biola University does not guarantee admission into the major. Applications to the major will not be considered until after the applicant has been admitted to Biola University. Notifications concerning your acceptance to the major will be processed by groups as listed on the application schedule page available from the Admissions Department.

After you have completed your application to Biola University, complete your application online by the appropriate deadline indicated on the website.

Please be assured that media production experience is not a prerequisite for admission into the major. Our program will show you how to use the tools. We are more interested in leadership ability, creative thinking, problem solving, and dreamers of credible character. The full department faculty will prayerfully review your application. Notification letters will be sent out by the deadlines listed in the schedule. You will be notified of your acceptance, placement on a waiting list or rejection.

If you have any questions about the status of your application, please call the department administrative assistant at (562) 777-4052 or write to:

Acceptance Committee
Cinema and Media Arts Department
Biola University
13800 Biola Avenue
La Mirada, CA 90639

Game Design and Interactive Media students are encouraged to purchase a computer with video editing software. While we understand the financial strains of such equipment expenditures, we also recognize that this technologically driven major involves costs well beyond the textbooks that serve as the essential tools for many other undergraduate departments. Contact the department for specific equipment recommendations.

General Requirements

All Cinema and Media Arts department majors must achieve a minimum grade of C in all major courses taken at Biola. Anyone receiving a lower grade must repeat the course and receive a C or better.

Curriculum Requirements

The Games and Interactive Media degree combines traditional cinematic storytelling techniques with new interactive mediums to develop game designers and media artists with a Christian world view. This concentration focuses specifically on story-centric game design, while incorporating some 3D animation, visual effects, virtual reality, and computer programming.

Program-Specific Core Curriculum Course(s)
3-D Design
Program Courses
CNMA 101Introduction to Visual Storytelling3
CNMA 102Visual Aesthetics3
CNMA 140History of Games and Interactive Technology3
CNMA 215Game Design Fundamentals3
CNMA 301Transmedia Design2
CNMA 305Intermediate Game Design3
CNMA 311Level Design3
CNMA 325Designing Game Narratives3
CNMA 327Game Engines3
CNMA 401Advanced Game Design3
CNMA 440Cinema and Media Arts Internship 13
CNMA 456Senior Portfolio3
CNMA 470Cinema and Media Arts Seminar 11
CSCI 104The Nature of Computing3
or CSCI 105 Introduction to Computer Science
Select 6 credits of elective courses from the following (3 credits must be upper-division):6
2-D Design
4-D Design
Sound Design
Integrated Design I
Animation I
New Media Art I
New Media Art II
Introduction to Mass Media
Screenwriting I
The Entertainment Business
Production Management
Media Literacy
Mass Media Law and Ethics
Faith and Film
Data Structures
Topics in Computer Science
Total Credits45

NOTE: The course sequence table is designed by the major department and is one way that the classes will work out properly in sequence for your major. However, there are alternative or flexible ways to rotate some of the classes within the same year/level and sometimes between year levels. Please contact your major department advisor to discuss flexible alternatives in scheduling the sequence of your classes.

Taking coursework during the summer session may also be an option to accelerate your degree path.

See Core Curriculum Program section for a list of approved Core Curriculum courses.

Cinema and Media Arts, B.A. Game Design and Interactive Media (CNGM)

First Year
BBST 103 or 1653BBST 103 or 1653
ARTS 111 (required)3BBST 209 or 2103
CNMA 1013CSCI 1053
ENGL 100 or 1123CNMA 1023
KNES 1071Foreign Language (see Core Curriculum)4
GNST 1021 
 14 16
Total Credits 30
Second Year
BBST 2513BBST 209 or 2103
CNMA 3012CNMA 2153
Foreign Language (see Core Curriculum)4CNMA 1403
Science (see Core Curriculum)3Communication (see Core Curriculum)3
MATH 1211HIST 200, 201, or POSC 2253
 Philosophy (see Core Curriculum)3
 13 18
Total Credits 31
Third Year
BBST 300/400 Bible Elective3BBST 3543
CNMA 3253CNMA 3273
Behavioral Science (see Core Curriculum)3CNMA 4403
MATH 1221CNMA 3053
Literature (see Core Curriculum)3ENGL 3133
KNES Activity (see Core Curriculum)1MATH 1231
Writing Competency Requirement0Graduation Petition due in Registrar's Office
 14 16
Total Credits 30
Fourth Year
BBST 3653BBST 4653
ARTS/CSCI/CNMA Elective3BBST 306, 316, or 3263
CNMA 3113CNMA 4013
HIST 100 or 1013CNMA 4563
General Elective1CNMA 4701
 ARTS/CSCI/CNMA Elective (upper-division)3
 13 16
Total Credits 29